Flow

Theory of Constraints 105: Drum-Buffer-Rope at Microsoft

A SERIES OF 5-MINUTE POSTS ON APPLYING PRINCIPLES OF FLOW TO KNOWLEDGE WORK
In the previous post, I explained Drum-Buffer-Rope (DBR), the original application of TOC to production environments like manufacturing. We’re now ready to take a closer look at a real-world example that brings together all the ideas we’ve covered in the series so far.

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Theory of Constraints 104: Balance Flow, Not Capacity

A SERIES OF 5-MINUTE POSTS ON APPLYING PRINCIPLES OF FLOW TO KNOWLEDGE WORK
In the previous post, I told the story of how Eliyahu Goldratt proposed time as a new mechanism for limiting work-in-process, using a new method he designed called Drum-Buffer-Rope (DBR).

Let’s examine how DBR proposes to fix the situation we left at the end of post #102:

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Theory of Constraints 103: The Four Fundamental Principles of Flow

A SERIES OF 5-MINUTE POSTS ON APPLYING PRINCIPLES OF FLOW TO KNOWLEDGE WORK
In the previous post, I described how many companies’ embrace of local optima leads to overwork and burnout for employees, and reduced throughput and profitability for the bottom line.

Before we look at what TOC proposes as a solution, we have to take a brief look at the history of flow, beginning with Henry Ford.

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Theory of Constraints 102: The Illusion of Local Optima

A SERIES OF 5-MINUTE POSTS ON APPLYING PRINCIPLES OF FLOW TO KNOWLEDGE WORK
In the previous post, I argued that many people unknowingly subscribe to a defunct management philosophy: that you can improve the performance of a company as a whole by individually improving the performance of its parts.

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Theory of Constraints 101: Applying the Principles of Flow to Knowledge Work

The Theory of Constraints is deceptively simple. It starts out proposing a series of “obvious” statements. Common sense really. And then before you know it, you find yourself questioning the fundamental tenets of modern business and society.

Eliyahu Goldratt laid out the theory in his 1984 best-selling book The Goal. It was an unusual book for its time — a “business novel” — telling the story of a factory manager in the post-industrial Midwest struggling with his plant.

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Meta-Skills, Macro-Laws, and the Power of Constraints

Nearly every science-fiction novel seems to agree on one thing: in the future, work will be indistinguishable from art. Such wide agreement suggests that work is far more than a means of income generation. Even in a robot servant utopia, with all our practical needs taken care of, human work will still have a purpose….

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A Review of Cal Newport’s Deep Work

This is my review of Cal Newport’s new book Deep Work (affiliate link), in which he makes the case that cultivating a capacity for intense concentration is the key competitive skill in the new knowledge economy. First, this is a well-written, thoughtful book with relevant stories and practical how-to’s for cultivating focus. I’m a fan…

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